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Snug as a Pug in a rug:  Keeping your dog warm during the winter months

  For many dog owners, how to keep their dog warm during the cold winter is a big concern.  Luckily for them, there are many ways to do this.

  If your dog is small, has short hair, or is older, you may want to consider purchasing a jacket to help keep him warm.  In some climates, it is appropriate to choose a sweater for the fall months and a heavier jacket for the colder winter months.  When choosing outerwear for your dog choose something simple that is easy for you to put on.  You may need to acclimate your dog to wearing a coat as some dogs do not like to be dressed up.  To do this, simply put the coat on for short periods each day making sure to give lots of good treats.  Your dog will learn to associate wearing his coat with yummy treats making it much easier for you to dress him.  Choose a coat made from durable materials that are easy to care for.  Just because it’s cute doesn’t necessarily mean that it is appropriate.  Also, if snow is a concern, look for water resistant materials. Make sure to know your dog’s measurements and follow the manufacturer’s directions to ensure proper fit.

  Dogs that walk a lot, work outside, or are older, may also need to wear boots.  Dog boots are available from many manufacturers and help keep feet protected from ice, snow, and salt.  As with coats, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions to ensure proper fit.  If you choose not to purchase boots for your dog, make sure to remove ice and snow from between his pads when he comes inside.  This will help keep him warm as well as help prevent dry, cracked, irritated pads.

  If your dog lives primarily outside, you will want to make sure you get him a good quality shelter of some sort.  Many pet supply stores and online manufacturers make great quality dog houses in a variety of styles for every budget.  You will want one that will help keep wind, rain, and snow away from your dog.  You will want to make sure that the opening to the dog house does not face the wind.  You will also want to make sure that you lay down straw or provide a bed or several blankets to help protect your dog from the frozen ground.  Make sure to change the straw and/or bedding periodically.  Blankets and beds can get wet and straw, when wet, can get moldy.  Moldy straw can lead to upper respiratory and skin infections.  Some people like to provide heat to their outside dog houses.  It is not a good idea to do this with heating pads or space heaters with electrical cords.  Your dog can chew through these cords causing a hazardous accident.  If you choose to provide heat to your outdoor dog, it is best to have this done professionally.  Some pet stores offer heated beds that contain a disc that can be heated in the microwave or with hot water periodically.

  During the winter, it is just as important to keep your dog properly groomed as it is during the summer.  Your dog’s coat provides natural insulation against the elements.  It is important to keep your dog’s coat brushed and free of mats and burrs.  The hair between the foot pads needs to be trimmed up to help prevent ice balls from forming.  Regular grooming will help ensure proper body temperature during the winter months.

  Some dogs, especially those kept outside, will require extra food during the winter months.  It is important to discuss these nutritional needs with your veterinarian or pet professional.  If your dog is kept outside, it is also very important to make sure that he has access to clean, fresh water at all times.  Snow and ice are not appropriate for hydration.  Be careful to make sure that his water has not frozen over.

  There are many things you can do to ensure that your dog stays warm and safe during the winter months.  If you have further questions about how to do this, please ask your veterinary staff or pet professionals.




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